I once slept with a lover in a grove of pepper-trees by a bike path in North Fitzroy. Romantic with drink in the warm night and too broke for a cab, we hoisted his swag from the boot of my Corolla and each took an end. A streetlight shone moon-like as we felt for a flat spot to spread the bedding. We sank into deep sleep, hidden in the inky dark. Whirring bicycle wheels and heavy metal trams woke us. We became self-conscious; we were uninvited. Workers pumped along Nicholson Street towards the heart of the city, and over on the Merri the spotted pardalote still cried ‘sleep dee-dee’. Above us the leaves of the pepper-tree hung like the picked-at skeletons of fish.
[Sophie Allan is a writer and publisher who lives on Wurundjeri country]